12.29.2008

"how many palestinian lives equal a single israeli life?"

Perhaps the only thing shocking about Israel's massive and sustained attack on Gaza is that some Canadians and Americans still defend Israel's actions.

This is, supposedly, self-defense. It's simply mind-boggling. I find it difficult to respond in any coherent way. It leaves me speechless and head-shaking, so I'll borrow other people's words.

Here are two letters from today's Globe and Mail.
If Israel was really interested in the security of its people, it would have had direct talks with Hamas (it was already in indirect talks with Hamas over its captured soldier) to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the Palestinian militant rocket attacks, both of which are violations of international law. This would have avoided the unnecessary bloodshed and escalation of violence we are now witnessing.

Israel knows it cannot avoid harm to innocent Palestinian civilians by "targeting" Hamas security centres in urban areas, given that roughly half of the 1.5 million people in densely populated Gaza are children. International human-rights law re-quires that Israel avoid excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians.

Rula Odeah, Kirkland, Quebec

*

How many Palestinian lives equal a single Israeli life? As of yesterday, about 290 and counting.

Trust Israel to take what is, on the surface, a defensible national security action and turn it into a display of disproportionate violence. And to what end?

These actions have only strengthened Hamas and the willingness of Palestinians to resist Israel. They have done nothing to stop the rocket attacks that are the ostensible cause of this most recent incursion.

Why not try something new? Perhaps Israel could recognize that Hamas was democratically elected by the Palestinian people and open negotiations, without preconditions. Maybe it could appreciate the importance of talking to your enemies, not just your friends.

And perhaps Israel and its Western allies could stop pretending that Hamas poses any significant threat to Israel. As this most recent display has proven, the Palestinians are almost pathetically powerless.

Shaun Narine, Fredericton

Two more Canadians were killed in Afghanistan this weekend. Defence Department figures show that more than 360 Canadian soldiers have been wounded in the past three years of fighting in southern Afghanistan. The 360 figure "represents the number of troops wounded since Canada took on a major role in the more dangerous southern part of the country in 2006 and does not include those hurt between 2002 and 2005".

We don't know how many Afghans have been killed and wounded.

Israel doesn't listen to the international outcry against its aggression any more than the US does. But we can still make Canada listen to Canadians. Let's not forget Canada's role in the violence that currently stalks the world, and let's make it stop.

31 comments:

Skinny Dipper said...

100+ Canadian soldiers dead in Afghanistan; 300+ Palestinians dead in Gaza.

Dave said...

I read this mornings Globe in the same "horror" as most of us. Hard to understand Israel's position, and am horrified that one letter actually condoned their action.
Thoughtful and timely post in your wonderful blog!

David

L-girl said...

100+ Canadian soldiers dead in Afghanistan; 300+ Palestinians dead in Gaza.

Respectfully, those are not comparable numbers. The 300+ Palestinians who were killed this weekend were just the latest victims of the Israeli occupation and aggression.

The 100+ Canadians are for the entire mission.

In Afghanistan, Canada is the aggressor. The comparable number would be how many Afghans have been killed, something we don't know.

L-girl said...

Thank you, Dave - especially considering I feel I can add nothing but my disgust.

am horrified that one letter actually condoned their action

I know. The letter writer was tut-tuting that now people will blame Israel. Imagine that! Blaming Israel for Israel's actions!

Skinny Dipper said...

Hi L-girl. I should have added that (a general) we will care more about the 100 dead Canadian soldiers than 300 dead Palestinians no matter if they are civilians or members of Hamas. If 1000 civilians get killed, they won't matter compared to 100 dead Canadians soldiers.

penlan said...

The missile rockets from the Palestinians over the last few weeks have killed 1 Israeli. A woman.

The air strikes from Israel have killed almost 300 with more than 700 wounded including dozens of children & women. And they aren't finished yet. So when it ends, for however amt. of time, we will know what the Israelis consider one Israeli death equals in Palestinian deaths.

To me this is bordering on genocide.

L-girl said...

Thanks Skinny Dipper. That is true. Very sad and terrible - and true.

Anyone reading comments here, pro-Israeli-attack comments are being rejected. Go support war somewhere else.

L-girl said...

Well, that didn't take long. Anyone who disagrees with Israeli policy must be anti-Semitic, right? Note to hawk commenters: I'M JEWISH.

David Cho said...

For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

Now I gotta brace myself for Evangelicals spewing out their non-sense rooting for "God's Chosen People."

James said...

Well, that didn't take long. Anyone who disagrees with Israeli policy must be anti-Semitic, right? Note to hawk commenters: I'M JEWISH.

Didn't you know? Just as anyone who opposes the US foreign policy is anti-American, anyone who opposes Israeli foreign policy is, by definition, anti-Semitic.

It's often seemed to me that the Likud's policy is explicitly designed to encourage the Palistinians to attack Israel, because fear of the Palistinians is only thing they have to get Israelis to vote for them.

L-girl said...

Didn't you know? Just as anyone who opposes the US foreign policy is anti-American, anyone who opposes Israeli foreign policy is, by definition, anti-Semitic.

I was going to write that same thing re anti-Americanism.

It's often seemed to me that the Likud's policy is explicitly designed to encourage the Palistinians to attack Israel, because fear of the Palistinians is only thing they have to get Israelis to vote for them.

I think there's a lot of truth in that. They are heavily invested in perpetuating the violence.

L-girl said...

For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.


Dylan is very good for this occasion. Thanks David.

James said...

"This operation," [Alon Ben-David, military correspondent for Israel's Channel 10 television] explained, "is directed at Hamas' motivation to fire rockets at Israel rather than its actual ability to do so."

So it boils down to "we'll kill Palestinian civilians to scare Hamas into doing what we want".

L-girl said...

"we'll kill [***] civilians to scare [***] into doing what we want".

That's a good definition of terrorism.

L-girl said...

Yesterday this post was linked on a CNN page, one of those "in the blogs" widgets. I was flooded with pro-Israeli comments, all using the same argument, often practically the same words. "What country would stand by and let themselves be attacked? If the US or Canada was attacked, wouldn't you expect it would fight back?" That was the gist - although the comments were often virulent, racist and condescending.

So here's your answer, trolls.

If one guy in Mexico with a rocket launcher killed one woman in California, I would not want the US to bomb Mexico City.

If the US changed its borders to occupy a chunk of Mexico (of course, it already did that, that's why Texas is in the US...), then forced everyone in the new "US" area into a refugee camp, and forced them to live in humiliating, subhuman conditions, and those people occasionally lashed out at individual Americans - because they couldn't have a standing army, this would be the equivalent of a military response - I would not want the US to indiscriminately bomb the rest of the people living in that area.

It's an imperfect analogy, but it serves the purpose.

ml johnstone said...

Our MPs seem to be out of the line of fire until January 5th,2009

redsock said...

Today's lead editorial in the Globe and Mail says that of course Israel has a right to fight back against its attackers.

I guess that means the G&M would be fine if Afghanistan was able to bomb a Canadian city and kill several hundred people.

L-girl said...

Our MPs seem to be out of the line of fire until January 5th,2009

True. But they'll still get their emails when they return. (Assuming you're referring to the other post about contacting MPs re resisters?)

MLJ, I just realized I may have rejected a comment of yours by mistake. I apologize for that, I was inundated with trolls yesterday. Feel free to post it again if you want.

L-girl said...

Today's lead editorial in the Globe and Mail says that of course Israel has a right to fight back against its attackers.

I guess that means the G&M would be fine if Afghanistan was able to bomb a Canadian city and kill several hundred people.


B-b-b-but... Canada is liberating Afghan women! (Hey Canada, save a piece of that for us Canadian women...)

James said...

Today's lead editorial in the Globe and Mail says that of course Israel has a right to fight back against its attackers.

So, how many of those 300+ actually attacked Israel?

ml johnstone said...

Its ok. I couldn't stand to feel the suffering and I wanted MPs to know that. I did leave emails, but I wanted action.
How come Harper can appoint Senators during the prorogue but he can't affirm the message from the UN and atleast get some aid over there. Like, today .. or yesterday!?
I am not hearing in the main press, anything from MPs.
Atleast in the US, Kuchinick (sp?) has said something.
I am grateful for Democracy Now.org.

L-girl said...

So, how many of those 300+ actually attacked Israel?

That's what's always omitted from those specious arguments. The people who are suffering, dying, losing children, having their homes destroyed are not the same people who perpetrated the act for which this is supposedly retaliation.

Atleast in the US, Kuchinick (sp?) has said something.

I'm a big fan of Kucinich, but it's not like he speaks for the US. He's an outsider if ever there was one.

James said...

The people who are suffering, dying, losing children, having their homes destroyed are not the same people who perpetrated the act for which this is supposedly retaliation.

But you couldn't have a better recruiter for Hamas than Israel -- just like the US has been great for Al Qaeda membership.

JakeNCC said...

Not to quibble and I know you know America better than I BUT...if members of the RCMP was lobbing rockets across the peace bridge into Buffalo the Americans would bomb our ass back into the stone age. And I'm not defending Israel just taking a jab at the U.S.

I know that Israel uses disproprotionate force and I know the Palestinians deserve to be free but I still find it hard on an emotional level to condemn Israel. And yes I know everything you are going to say but on some level you know what I mean. As you said about being offended at Christmas, its just how you feel whether always logical or not. It's very hard for me and I'm not even sure why. How do members of the Jewish community deal with condeming Israeli actions without feeling they are betraying the Jewish people?

Please be gentle.

L-girl said...

But you couldn't have a better recruiter for Hamas than Israel -- just like the US has been great for Al Qaeda membership.

Absofuckinglutely.

L-girl said...

if members of the RCMP was lobbing rockets across the peace bridge into Buffalo the Americans would bomb our ass back into the stone age.

Yes, of course. But if some guy in Buffalo was throwing a grenade at Ft Erie, would Canada bomb Buffalo out of existence? I hope not.

I know that Israel uses disproprotionate force and I know the Palestinians deserve to be free but I still find it hard on an emotional level to condemn Israel. And yes I know everything you are going to say but on some level you know what I mean.

Sorry Jake, but I really don't. I know what you're talking about, but I have zero emotional attachment to Israel.

I was raised with Zionism, learned to sing Ha'Tikvah, was taught Israel was the promised land, etc. But I came to see that as utterly ridiculous. The idea that I - someone who has never set foot in that country - have a right to be an Israeli citizen because my mother was Jewish, but someone whose family has lived there for generations has no right to their own land, strikes me as beyond ludicrous.

As you said about being offended at Christmas, its just how you feel whether always logical or not.

Right, although I don't think I said that, I think it's pretty logical. I said it's how I feel, not a choice I make.

It's very hard for me and I'm not even sure why.

Because you are Jewish? Or you are not Jewish, and you still feel this way? I'm not clear on that.

How do members of the Jewish community deal with condeming Israeli actions without feeling they are betraying the Jewish people?

Speaking for myself, there's no contradiction or even conflict. My allegiance is to peace, compassion, the right of all peoples to self-determination, etc. etc, not to any country. Israel's actions seem wrong to me, so I condemn those actions. I'm not against the Israeli people, many of whom want peace, but I'm against the actions of their government and those that support it.

Hey, if I don't feel allegiance to the country I was born in and lived in for 44 years, I'm not going to feel allegiance to a country I've never been to.

Many North American Jews do have a blind spot when it comes to Israel. I know because my father was one of them. But many Jewish people also see Israel for what it has become and say Not In My Name.

I'm very interested in your perspective, and I promise not to tear it apart. :)

JakeNCC said...

Well I'm going to feel inadequate to discuss Israel with a Jew but I guess I have an affinity for Israel and what the Jewish people went through. I'm not sure that its as simple as Israel is evil and Palestine is good. There's too much hatred on both sides. Israel has been attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Hezbelloh and Hamas at one time or another. Now of course Israel gives as good as it gets but when a people were almost wiped out just 60 years ago I'm sure the Israeli state takes the rhetoric of its neighbours to wipe it out as serious. Does this excuse what Israel has done or is doing? of course not. I'm very clear that bombing civilians from a mile in the sky whether it be Americans in Iraq, Israelis in Gaza or Canadians in Serbia is terrorism as sure as a suicide bomb. Perhaps I'm still not making my point clear, it just seems to me that too many of us on the left have too much hate for Israel and not enough perspective that there is good and bad on both sides.

For instance if Israel were to withdraw to its 1967 borders and the West Bank and Gaza were completely independent do you think the people of Tel Aviv would be safe if Hamas controlled the West Bank less than 20 kilometres away? It's very complicated and I know you will say war is never the answer but that can't be an absolute considering the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge and the Rwandan genocide. I don't have the answers and I know I havent been as articulate as I wished but a few years ago I really got into reading about World War II and it stays with you and right or wrong I tend to give Israel a free pass perhaps more than I should. Sorry for the length of this post.

JakeNCC said...

btw Happy New Year!

L-girl said...

Jake, no apologies needed, and thanks for your thoughts.

I think a lot of Jewish people around the world share your views.

For me the Holocaust is irrelevant to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Other peoples have been the victims of genocide, all over the world.

This is not to diminish the horror of the Holocaust, but to put it in perspective of one of many mass slaughters in the 20th century. It's a long and terrible list, and it continues to this day.

None of those peoples were awarded a special homeland on land someone else already lived.

Now, I do NOT - emphatically NOT - say Israel has no right to exist in that land, as many on the left do. It may have come into being by fiat without the consent of the people already there, but so did a lot of places - like the US and Canada! Israel does exist and Israelis can't just disappear to make other communities happy.

And I do agree that if Israel withdrew to its pre-1967 borders, there would most likely still be terrorism against it.

However, that presupposition cannot be used as an excuse to continue occupying Gaza and to continue to murder and oppress Palestinians. That's pre-emptive war, it's murdering civilians who have not committed terrorism. (And in the long run, as James said, it's creating more hatred and more terrorism.)

If it's wrong when the US does it, it's wrong when Israel does it.

Your question about the safety of the people of Tel Aviv doesn't make sense to me. Israel's actions are surely not making Israelis any safer. Unless the object is to kill every possible person who might one day commit terrorism. Perhaps they could be rounded up, put in camps, then disposed of... Hmm. Here is where the holocaust might be relevant.

JakeNCC said...

Thanks for your response. You always make me think.

L-girl said...

Thanks Jake. Back atcha.